The Survey of Chinese and Indian diasporic scholars in Australia was undertaken for the Asia Literacy: Language and Beyond project. The project was led by Professor Ien Ang, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney and the Asia Literacy: Language and Beyond Expert Working Group. The project was administered by the Asia Literacy: Language and Beyond secretariat under the ACOLA Securing Australia’s Future program. The Survey of Chinese and Indian diasporic scholars in Australia explored the role that Chinese and Indian diasporic scholars living in Australia play in the promotion of people-to-people links with researchers and communities in China and India, as well as elsewhere.
The research literature regarding diaspora and increased connectivity with scholars in China and India is rich and compelling. China’s growth in research investment, publication and participation has been remarkable; while India’s growth in research publication and participation has increased substantially in recent years, supporting India’s depiction as the “sleeping giant”. Chinese and Indian diaspora are spread throughout the world, across all continents. Notwithstanding the important ‘identity’ issues associated with the concept of, and implications arising from “diaspora” assignation, this includes very large numbers of globally mobile Chinese and Indian scholars. These scholars play a vital role in driving innovation and economic growth, forging international collaborations and improving cross-cultural understanding. In Australia, the resident population of Chinese and Indian immigrants has rapidly increased, and now totals some 387,000 Chinese and 337,000 Indian immigrants (2011). The number of foreign-born scholars (including doctoral candidates) in Australia includes large and growing numbers of scholars from China and India. At the same time, Chinese and Indian international students are vitally important to Australia’s export education industry, while the recruitment of the best Chinese and Indian graduating students through “two-step migration” contributes to the flow of international scholars into Australia.
The transnational flows of people and ideas and international scholarly collaborations have grown in recent decades. This growth has been attributed to the rising importance of global phenomena, dispersion of expertise, high cost of major research infrastructure, growth of information communication technology and ease of international travel. Concomitantly, the proportion of the world’s collaboratively authored scholarly publications has increased, as has Australia’s. In the globalized, knowledge-based world, preliminary concerns regarding “brain drain” have now turned to opportunities to leverage “brain circulation” and “diaspora options”. Globally, governments have developed diaspora policy responses spanning economic, knowledge-economy, migration, education and research and development (R&D) considerations. The Australian, Chinese and Indian governments have all recognized the important opportunities presented by expanding people-to-people connectivity and international research collaborations.
The Asia Literacy: Language and Beyond secretariat administered the survey in the period July-August, 2014. In total, 244 survey responses were received. The survey respondents were overwhelmingly Australian citizens or permanent residents. The vast majority was born in China (89 respondents) or India (85 respondents). The remaining respondents were born in Australia (11), another Asian country (35), a Pacific country (7), or another country outside the Asia-Pacific region (9). Respondents identified their ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds in various ways, broadly described in most instances as ‘Chinese’ or ‘Indian’. Many respondents elaborated, demonstrating the complexity and layering of ethnicity conceptions spanning geographical, religious and cultural distinctions. The age profile was skewed towards mid- to late-career respondents.
The respondents were highly educated, primarily doctoral degree holders, or holders of a postgraduate degree or postgraduate diploma. Respondents’ postgraduate qualifications were predominantly obtained from Australia, followed by India and China; however some obtained their postgraduate qualifications from the dominant export education players (the United States, United Kingdom and Canada). Over half of the respondents had stability in their employment arrangements, having employment in a permanent position. The respondents were overwhelmingly employed in a research-intensive position, from a wide disciplinary spread predominantly science and engineering. Many respondents were multilingual. Almost all were fluent in English and many were also fluent either in Indian languages (predominantly Hindi) or Chinese languages (predominantly Putonghua).